Sons of Grace
Isa 5:1 Now let me sing to my Well-beloved A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill. 2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes. 3 "And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard. 4 What more could have been done to My vineyard That I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, Did it bring forth wild grapes? 5 And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. 6 I will lay it waste; It shall not be pruned or dug, But there shall come up briers and thorns. I will also command the clouds That they rain no rain on it." 7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.
Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. 19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Joh 16:5 "But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?' 6 "But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
7 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 "of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 "of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 "of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 "All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.
Ben, Josh, and all assembled here today in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Confirmation. What exactly is taking place here today? What is this “Lutheran” rite of passage all about? Well, it’s very similar to the Jewish rite called the Bar Mitzvah. In the Jewish tradition young men at the age of 13 become “sons of the commandment” We could call them “son’s of the Law.
But the purpose of our confirmation procedure at Living Word has been to make you understand that you are not sons of the Law, but sons of grace.
Oh we spent a lot of time on the commandments, and our prayer is that you will remember them...all the way down to Martin Luther’s “What does this mean?” Because these commandments and their meanings will go a long way in guiding you through a life that is pleasing to the Lord.
But more importantly, it is our prayer that in studying these commands, you have seen how far short you fall of the glory of God. That you understand what a sinner you are, that you are in need of God’s saving grace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
It is our prayer that the Holy Spirit has worked in those commands just as the Lord spoke of in our Gospel lesson today: Convincing you of your sinfulness, and your need to remain in the righteousness of Christ freely given to you and unearned by you in your baptism, and how you need to stay in that baptismal relationship, “now more than ever” lest you be judged a sinner on the last Day and condemned to hell.
It is this understanding that properly prepares you to remain the sons of grace that you became at your baptism. You did nothing to earn your salvation at your baptism and you can do nothing now or ever to earn heaven. You are saved by grace alone! Trusting in Christ alone.
It is this understanding that prepares you to properly receive the Lord’s Supper today and forevermore.
You should know now by now, that you are a sinner, and that in your participation in the Lord’s Supper Jesus assures you of your personal deliverance from sin, death, and the devil.
By His Words, “This IS My Body and Blood, you can be assured of His actual justifying and sanctifying presence at the table and in your life! I charge you today Ben and Josh, along with all other sons of grace to come to this meal often. For Jesus Himself said, “
1Co 11:25b ”This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
To neglect this meal is to neglect Jesus Himself. He said remember Me. What’s the opposite of remembering? Forgetting! And if you choose to forget Jesus.....He will choose to forget you on the last day.
Lu 9:26 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels.
As we look at our OT lesson today, we can see some parallels to your own lives. Though Isaiah was speaking specifically about Israel these passages apply to you as well. When you were baptized...you were planted by God in His vineyard. All the benefits that Jesus won for the world were conveyed to you at that time.
The stain of original sin, and all other sins were washed away. You were adopted by God as His child, You were robed with the righteousness of Christ. You were granted faith. You were given the Holy Spirit...the Helper. And the Word of God was implanted in you.
You were blessed with godly parents and that was so evident as I went through the confirmation classes with you. Your parents should be commended for they did a wonderful job of preparing you to become sons of grace. It’s clear that they have given you a solid foundation in the Word of God.
You have been blessed with attending churches that hold to the inerrancy of the Word of God. . You’ve attended Sunday Schools and VBS. and there are still more opportunities for spiritual growth that lie ahead of you......
I urge you to take advantage of them because in case you don’t know it, you are not yet out of the woods yet.....in fact you are now beginning the process of entering it on your own. Working out your own salvation.....and you are going to need all the help you can continue to get.
Your parents, your teachers, your pastors have marked the trail for you. God has given you the Holy Spirit and His Word to help you....now it is up to you to follow it and finish the race, and to seek ways to bring others with you, lest they perish on the Last Day.
God gave you all these things because He expected you to produce good grapes...not wild grapes. He wants wine sweetened by graceful living. Lives that live for Him and love for Him and die to self for Him, simply because he first lived, loved, and died for you.
Fight to remember this. The world would have your vine grow wildly without restraint, but God has a better plan for you. And that plan starts with your vine clinging to the cross of Christ. (Remember His death and it’s benefits often as you receive His Body and Blood in Communion.
And God’s plan for you will continue to unfold as you strive to remain in the guiding trellis of His Word.
Jesus said in Jn 15:
Joh 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
And that takes us to our epistle lesson: James reminds us that every good gift comes from above. Every good gift came to you in your baptism. God used that water and Word to bring you forth as a new vine in His vineyard.
And James tells us why He did that. “So that you, Ben, Josh, and all gathered here today “might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
Now the term “firstfruits” doesn’t do much for us today. But to help you understand what God wants here...think about the county fair. When I was in 4-H we would bring our vegetables to display in hopes of winning a blue ribbon.
The fair was usually held at the time of the year when the first part of the crop was coming in. We would take the best looking part of the first part of the crop and showcase it at the county fair. And that’s what God wants out of you and every other baptized believer present here today.
He wants to showcase you to the world. He wants to show the world what a son of grace looks like. He wants to show the world what Jesus Christ can do for someone as He lives and loves through them so that more will come to repentance and salvation.
Then James warns us about unruly ears, tongues, tempers, and bodies. He says lay these things aside and receive with meekness, with humility, with a continued desire to be trained, the Word that was implanted in you at your baptism.
It is this implanted Word that continues our training process and causes us to be a showcase for God. The process never ends while we live on this earth.
Ben and Josh....you are beginning a new part of your journey today. A journey that will last a lifetime. It’s called the journey of grace. From this day forward, you shouldn’t come to church because your parents demand it! That would be an indication that you are still a child of the Law!
Rather it should be you who rounds up the troops for church simply because you hunger for God’s means of grace......His Word , His Body (fellowship) ....His Blood. (forgiveness)
Having gone through confirmation you should realize what a sinner you are and how much you need the help of God, the grace of God in your life in order to finish the race and be a showcase for Him at the final county fair....the Judgement of the world.
You are sons of grace......a showcase for God....remain in the vine and cling to the cross as you head off to high school and college, shine forth! and produce fruit for your loving heavenly Father.
Jesus, bless Ben and Josh. Bind their hearts to Your implanted Word. Daily may they grow closer to You. Preserve them in Your Truth, so that nothing this world offers ever tempts them to stray from Your side. Give them the desire to continue feeding on Your Word, so their faith will be continually strengthened and their love for You and others may be increased, in Your Name I pray....Amen.